What’s in a name?

My latest TTF digital story (http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/history-middleton-cricket-club) includes an account of an opening bowling partnership called Mr Killer and Mr Dearth (pronounced ‘death’) I loved the idea of ‘killer and death’ bowling at you in tandem!  I’ve no idea if they were any good, they may have been quite ineffective bowlers but their names must surely have struck fear into the minds of the batsmen.

Other cricketers’ names that have tickled me are – Napoleon Einstein, he’s a young Indian cricketer who doesn’t look what I’d expect from his name (I pictured a Victorian gentleman with a big mustache!)  I’m not sure if those names have the same connotations in India, but I think a lot will be expected of him if he’s to live up to his name in the international game.

A rather sweet unassuming looking 'Napoleon Einstein'.

A rather sweet unassuming looking ‘Napoleon Einstein’.

I love the name ‘Arthur Fielder’ for a cricketer.  I can imagine endless funny conversations at the matches he played in i.e.

Spectator A – “Who caught that last one?”

Spectator B – “A. Fielder”

Spectator A – “I know it was a fielder, but which one?”

(Ha ha ha ha ha  – Oh come on!  I can’t be the only person who finds that funny!)

A. Fielder bowling for Kent c. 1907 (from the MCC photography collection)

A. Fielder bowling for Kent c. 1907 (from the MCC photography collection)

Alastair Cook isn’t a particularly funny name, but I am looking forward to seeing what the headline writers can do with ‘Captain Cook’ heading over to Australia this winter.  The idea of bowling ‘Onions’ at anyone has also always amused me.  But the favourite name I’ve come across today is ‘Jack Crapp’.  It probably shows my immaturity but I still can’t read it without laughing.  He played for England and Gloucestershire in the 1940s and 50s, maybe the media were more respectful back then as I’d hate to think what they’d say these days anytime he dropped a catch or got out with a silly shot.

Mr Crapp sits 2nd from the right.  Picture from Gloucestershire CCC Year Book 1953.

Mr Crapp sits 2nd from the right. Picture from Gloucestershire CCC Year Book 1953.

As you may have guessed, I find childlike amusement in funny names – please send me some more!

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Filed under Cricket, digital stories, England, History, India, MCC, names, oral history

Weird Exhibits

When I published ‘Comb but not forgotten’ (http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/comb-not-forgotten) a few weeks ago I stated that there was nothing as strange at Lord’s museum as Malcolm Woodhead’s old comb collection.  Today I decided I’d better actually check whether or not this was true so I consulted Heather Thomas our museum’s conservator, and she found me a selection of item’s that definitely rival Malcolm’s combs!

Heather: the gatekeeper of the weird and wonderful.

Heather: the gatekeeper of the weird and wonderful.

The first contender is quite famous.  This poor sparrow was hit and killed by a Ball during a MCC v. Cambridge match in 1936.  To honor the poor creature’s memory he was stuffed and mounted and displayed with his killer!  Now I think that’s pretty weird, but it’s a very popular exhibit.

MCC8553I chose this second item, mainly because I thought it was something else.  I spotted it while Heather was going through a draw of cricket balls.

dung

I cannot believe I’m the only person who thinks this looks just like a piece of dung!  Well it isn’t apparently.   It’s identified as “darkly coloured amorphous lump of unidentified material, possibly some form of resin”.  The old catalogue card had it down as “BALL of raw rubber, used by native boys in the GOLD coast, 1905” – but this hasn’t been confirmed by the museum experts so I’m still going to think of it as old dung – which is a pretty weird museum exhibit outside a dedicated dung museum.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get weirder…(When Heather handed me this final exhibit a gagged).

Drum roll please…

Denis Compton's hip joint

…may I present…Denis Compton’s hip-joint!

There’s no joke – it really is the body part of a famous cricketer.  It was presented to us by his surgeon who removed it when Compton had his hip replaced (obviously).  It’s quite disgusting and definitely qualifies as a weird exhibit.

If anyone can beat that I will be impressed.

yuk

yuk

(The Lord’s Museum doesn’t just have weird stuff, we do have nice things too.  Please come and visit us).

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Filed under Cricket, History, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC, MCC

Dancing with Death

dancing

Thankfully Vaughan’s attempts at ballroom didn’t end in death.

Little bit of a footnote to my last blog on death.  I had an enquiry this week from a descendent of Dodger Whysall a 1920s cricketer who died of septicemia in 1930 from an injury he sustained while dancing!  Yes it seems modern cricketers aren’t the first to enjoy a tango off the field.  He slipped over on the dance floor and banged his elbow, the injury developed complications and he had a blood transfusion in an attempt to save his life, but it was too late – poor thing.  I wonder if he was a good dancer.

I will try do get off death for my next blog, but do let me know if you know of any more ‘interesting’ cricket deaths and I’ll included them after a few more cheerful blogs.

'Dodger' is third from the right at the back, this was the 1924-25 Ashes team.  He doesn't look like a dancer!

‘Dodger’ is third from the right at the back, this was the 1924-25 Ashes team. He doesn’t look like a natural dancer!

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Filed under Cricket, dancing, death, England, History, Lord's Cricket Ground

Death of a Cricketer

Obviously a big death is in the news at the moment.  How we should remember her? what type of funeral? etc.  It’s got me thinking about death (cheery I know) and reminded me of the week I spent cataloging memorial and funeral service brochures.  Some of them were moving, some sad, some uplifting.  Here are a few of my favourites.

Larwood mem

As you may know if you read my ‘Villains?’ a few weeks ago Harold Larwood was a somewhat controversial figure due to the part he played in bodyline bowling.  Yet many believed his disgrace was ill deserved and the Rector’s words reflect this in the opening address.

“Harold lived as he bowled – honestly, steadfastly and wholeheartedly.  For various reasons, which are now part of the game’s history, he was not always appreciated but despite this he continued his spell with fortitude and preserved his own integrity.”

A very nicely put tribute I think.

Don Bradman mem

I like this one because it’s nice and joyful.  I love the picture on the front, it’s so 1930s and reminds me what incredible times this man saw (as well as being an incredible cricketer).  I think the cartoon on the back with the umpires signal of ‘out’ is touching and funny.

owzat DonMy very favourite though, makes me feel sad.

Hedley Verity mem

Unlike the first two, his life was cut short violently and prematurely   At just 38 he died in Italy as a prisoner of war from wounds received during an attack on a German battalion in Sicily.  Before he went missing in action his last known words were “keep going, keep going” urging his men on in the attack.  At first there was hope he might have survived his wounds and be in a prisoner of war camp but word was received of his death and the Telegraph & Argus paid this moving tribute on 2 September 1943…

Wherever good cricket is appreciated, wherever sportsmanship is accepted as an indication of character, wherever men are honoured not because they are wealthy or gifted, but because they are in the true sense of the word men, there will the name of Hedley Verity be ever respected.

The humble last resting place of Hedley Verity.

(Memorial and funeral service brochures are among the many interesting and quirky items that can be viewed in the Lord’s Museum, Archive and Library.  Catalogue available on-line soon.) As well as a brave and well respected man he was a great bowler with the best first-class average in his day and the only man to take 14 wickets in a single day in a test match.  His death was a terrible waste of talent.

Here’s me hunting for interesting things to show you.

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Filed under Australia, bowling, cataloguing, Cricket, death, England, History, injury, Librarianship, MCC

Too cold for cricket.

Beautiful but cold.

Beautiful but cold.

Looks nice enough for a game today but it’s absolutely freezing.  Some guys have been out in the outdoor nets today too, bet they were shivering.

According to the weather forecast it’s currently 7 degrees Celsius outside which is exactly the same temperature recorded for the coldest weather a test match has ever been played in.  You only have to go back to Leeds 2007 for this test, England v West Indies.  I remember it well, I was there (although luckily not on the coldest day) and it was yucky and cold.

That was test cricket, but I bet clubs and counties have played in worse weather.  Let me know if you can think of any examples.

Getting the pitch ready for a match?

Getting the pitch ready for a match?

 

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Filed under Cricket, Lord's Cricket Ground

Naughty boys

I'm about to lose my beautiful old desk.

I’m about to lose my beautiful old desk.

Busy week here at Lord’s as the museum refurbishment is well underway.  I’m not involved really so have mostly been keeping out of the way, although I have been forced to take a bit of interested after finding out my desk is going to be part of the exhibit about Wisden.  I was pretty upset at first at being turfed out of my home, but have cheered up as I now know I will be getting a replacement desk (so won’t have to work on the floor).  It’s also nice to know that my desk will be admired by many, you too can come and view the famous desk at the MCC museum soon – it’s being displayed to symbolise John Wisden’s desk, but you will know the truth, it’s far more important than that, it’s actually the very desk where so many of my famous wonderful blog posts have been written.

Have a great new story on the TTF website this week ( http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/innocence-youth ) please have a listen.  I don’t want to spoil the ending for you but I will say that it involves a little boy being a little bit naughty.  His actions in the final over of a match remind me of the controversal ball bowled by Trevor Chappell in 1981, it was the last ball of the match and New Zealand needed 6 to win so Chappell ensured this was impossible by bowling the ball underarm and letting it gently roll along the ground to the batsman, a strategy not actually illegal at the time, but certainly rather naughty!

Trevor Chappell rolls the last ball of the innings along the ground to stop the opposition from scoring.

Trevor Chappell rolls the last ball of the innings along the ground to stop the opposition from scoring.

For some other examples of naughty boy behaviour I have turned to fiction.  In The Wicket Swindlers we a have a definite case of cheating, using a rather complicated method.  The baddies have invented a device that looks like a simple camera but can be pointed at the batsman from some distance away and will release ‘electrical waves’ causing the batsman to lose concentration and make silly mistakes.  Ingenious!  Luckily the hero of the piece discovers their scheme and sees them brought to justice.

The poor batsman doesn't know why he suddenly looses concentration.

The poor batsman doesn’t know why he suddenly loses concentration.

Perhaps a little less cunning, Harry Harper decides to teach the smug prefect fast bowler a lesson and stop him playing in a match by stealing his trousers!  Any young boys out there planning a trick like this should beware.  Poor Harry is spotted during his scam, ends up being accused of a crime he did not commit, his reputation lays in tatters and his plan doesn’t even work.  The lesson learned is that trouser stealing just is not cricket, avoid it if you can.

Steeling trousers can get you in trouble!

Stealing trousers can get you in trouble!

(Further reading: It’s Not Cricket: A History of Skulduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game by Simon Rae, The Wicket Swindlers by Anthony Thomas, The Boys Book of Cricket for 1950 – all available at the MCC library.)

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Filed under cheating, children, Cricket, school cricket

This is London – how d’ye like it?

After one year here I still feel like a tourist.

After one year here I still feel like a tourist.

I never fail to be surprised by the unexpected things you find in cricket annuals.   Today in was a poem about London.  This caught my eye as it’s now just over a year since I moved to London to work at Lord’s.  I absolutely love it!  I like the energy, the noise, the architecture, the history, the feeling of being on a film set and (unlike most) I find it really friendly.  The author of the poem was not so impressed.

DESCRIPTION OF LONDON

Houses, churchers, mix”d together;

Streets, unpleasant in all weather;

Prisons, palaces,  contiguous;

Gates – a bridge, the Thames irriguous;

Showy outsides, insides empty;

Bubbles, trades, mechanic arts,

Coaches, Wheelbarrows, and carts;

Warrants, bailiffs, bills unpaid,

Lords of laundresses afraid;

Rogues that nightly shoot at men.

Hangmen, aldermen, and footmen;

Lawyers, poets,  priest, physicians;

Noble, simple – all conditions;

Worth, beneath a thread-bare cover;

Villany, bedaub’d all over;

Women, black, red, fair and grey,

Prudes, and such as never pray;

Handsome, ugly, noisy, still,

Some that will not – some that will;

Many a beau without a shilling,

Many a widow – not unwilling;

Many a bargain, if you strike it:

This is London – how d’ye like it?

I found it in W.Whitham’s List of Cricket Matches 1895.

list of cricket matches

I’m not into poetry and not entirely sure of his meaning, but most of it doesn’t sound very complimentary!  He admits there’s lots going on, which is good I suppose, but he also claims there are nightly shootings and women with loose morals and that all the streets are unpleasant.

I notice the book is from Sheffield, very close to where I grew up.  In my experience there is a lot of distrust of London life in that part of the world.  My Grandma in particular was full of complaints – “it’s dirty, smelly, noisy, full of crime, where all the money goes, over crowded, on the news too much.” (although if it was really full of crime I never understood why she should complain why it was on the news all the time, surely all that crime needed to be reported).  She never actually went to London of course.

Well I like London!  Anyone else have any strong opinions either way?  Have any of you met many ‘willing widows’ here?

Let me know.

Me and my husband being touristy at the Monument

Me and my husband being touristy at the Monument

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Filed under Cricket, History, Librarianship, London, Poetry